08:08 AM

USRA Testimony at Senate Hearing on NASA Authorization

Columbia, MD, May 16, 2009 - The President of USRA, Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino, testified May 7 before the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences on recent USRA Council of Institutions resolutions. The committee is currently drafting the Senate version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2008. The testimony provided the committee with a university perspective that focused on five recommendations:

  • First, NASA and the Vision for Space Exploration should be reauthorized in a balanced manner that ensures a strong and healthy space science program.
  • Second, the importance of universities to our space program should be made a stronger part of all NASA programs.
  • Third, workforce development of tomorrow's scientific and engineering leaders should be made a part of NASA's mission
  • Fourth, adequate emphasis should be placed on university-led missions that provide hands-on training for students.
  • Fifth, NASA should be reimbursed the cost of returning to flight.

The testimony emphasized, in particular, the importance of hands-on training for graduate and undergraduate students and cited a decades-long decline in university-led small orbital and suborbital missions that enable student involvement. In March, USRA member universities unanimously adopted a resolution at their annual meeting urging that at least 1% of NASA's total budget be devoted to funding competitive opportunities for university-led hands-on training provided by university missions on sounding rockets, high altitude balloons, remotely piloted vehicles, emerging commercial suborbital flights, and university class space flight missions. Dr. Tarantino made the resolution a part of his written testimony.

The full text of opening remarks and written testimony are available for download.

The Universities Space Research Association, established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 102 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.